Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: Romeo x Juliet (2007)

Romeo x Juliet (2007) is a Japanese romance anime based on William Shakespeare's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It is a story of a young and tragic love set in the futuristic aerial city of Neo Verona. It contains 24 episodes. This show contains 24 episodes.

Fourteen years ago, Leontes Montague and his men led a bloody coup and murdered all of the members of House Capulet. However one survivor, Juliet, was able to escape thanks to a group of Capulet loyalists.

In the present, the Montague family rules the kingdom with an iron fist and oppresses anyone who opposes their rule. Juliet, now a 16-year-old girl, fights against House Montague's oppression by becoming a masked vigilante known as "The Red Whirlwind." She is unaware that she is the last descendent of the House Capulet family. While attending the Rose Ball hosted by the Montagues with a friend, Juliet meets Romeo, the Montague prince. Both of them deeply fall romantically in love at first sight.

Unlike his father, Romeo is a kind and humble man who is opposed to his father's cruelty and shares many ideals with Juliet. Unfortunately for them, Capulet loyalists are planning a rebellion to overthrow House Montague while Leontes is obsessed with destroying the threat of House Capulet permanently. As these star-crossed lovers face many challenges and adventures together which will strengthen their love, an ancient secret hidden within Neo Verona is slowly revealed.

“Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.”

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Although the anime borrows mostly from Shakespeare's story, the manga adaptation differs extensively from the original. So, I was intrigued to see where the producers and screenwriters were heading with this romantic tragedy. The story takes place in a mythical medieval realm, and a great enchanted tree (Escalus) supports life on Neo Verona. The tree of life is a mystical concept alluding to the interconnection of all life on our planet. Various fantasy- and science fiction-based anime, in particular, have used this symbol (e.g., Sailor Moon R, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Genesis of Aquarion).

The show did not disappoint. It was very focused, energetic and The writers incorporated characters from other Shakespeare plays as a nice twist. There were a lot of action and romantic narratives in the first half, and the fantasy element became more prominent in the second half of the anime. I also loved Lena Park's version of "You Raise Me Up" (both English and Japanese versions). She made this Josh Groban hit song sound so both innocent and romantic. In 2009, Romeo × Juliet was dubbed into English and released by Funimation Entertainment.

Overall, I highly recommend this anime adaptation.

Inori ~You Raised Me Up~ (Japanese Version)

Inori ~You Raised Me Up~ by Lena Park (English Version)

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